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Iraqi troops dig in, bolstering Baghdad's defences

Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters train in the grounds of their camp in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq on June 14, 2014Soldiers armed with shovels are digging in just 25 kilometres (15 miles) north of Baghdad as others man new checkpoints, bolstering the Iraqi capital’s defences against a militant assault. A major militant offensive launched on Monday, spearheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group but also involving supporters of executed dictator Saddam Hussein, has overrun a large chunk of northern and north-central Iraq. The advance swept to within less than 100 kilometres (60 miles) of the capital, raising fears among residents that the city itself would be next, though militants have since been pushed back by security forces in areas farther north, making an assault on Baghdad appear less likely. ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani has vowed its fighters would press on to Baghdad and Karbala, a city southwest of the capital that is considered one of the holiest sites in Shiite Islam.

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